Local News

Bridge Problem Strands Thousands Of Amtrak Passengers

Posted April 13, 2006

— Thousands of families up and down the East Coast are canceling their Easter travel plans, are stranded, or are taking a bus to get to their loved ones, all because of a small problem with a major Amtrak rail line.

Engineers discovered a defective part on the Little River Bridge in Johnston County on Wednesday. Crews rushed to make repairs Thursday after a CSX engineer found a problem with the support structure and determined that the bridge is not safe to cross.

Until the problem is fixed, about 50 trains a day cannot pass through North Carolina, and ten of those are Amtrak trains. The company has cancelled all its New York to Florida and Virginia to Florida runs.

"It's putting me a little behind, because I expected to have dinner with my cousin," said traveler Minnie Harrington.

Harrington took a bus from Durham-Rocky Mount, the only place in North Carolina where you can still get a train headed north.

"So I will be boarding a train, thank goodness," she said.

Gwen Robinson drove from Kinston to Wilson, then waited three hours to catch a bus at the Rocky Mount station.

"Still waiting, so hopefully I'll get to my destination, which is New York," said Robinson.

Rocky Mount is as far south as the trains go for now. From there, passengers will have to take buses to Charlotte or Savannah, Ga.

Many people cannot travel at all. Amtrak estimates that about 2,500 passengers a day up and down the East Coast, are affected by the bridge problem in Johnston County.

Crews say they will work around the clock until the Johnston County bridge is repaired, but that may not be soon enough for thousands of people traveling this holiday weekend. At the earliest, repairs may be completed by Friday afternoon.

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